Third party or comprehensive: What car insurance do I need?


If you want to get behind the wheel in the UK, car insurance is a legal requirement. But you wouldn’t be the first driver to question what type of cover you should buy: third party or comprehensive. 

That’s why we’ve put together this guide. It explains what each type of insurance typically includes. So you can figure out the best option for you.


What does third party car insurance cover?

Third party – sometimes known as ‘third party only’ or ‘TPO’ – is the minimum level of cover you need to drive. 

What a third party policy includes varies slightly from insurer to insurer. But typically, it covers you for any damage you might cause to another person (in other words, a ‘third party’) and/or their property.

So let’s say you accidentally crash into someone else’s car. If you have third party insurance, your insurer will usually pay to:

  • Fix any damage to (or replace) the other person’s car
  • Compensate the other person for any injuries they suffer
  • Compensate any passengers who are injured, including passengers in your car

But you won’t be covered for:

  • Any injuries to yourself
  • Any damage to your own car 

Unfortunately, if your own car is damaged in an accident, you’ll need to pay to repair or replace it out of your own pocket. 

This is unless, of course, the accident was someone else’s fault. In this case, you can usually claim for damage to your car on their insurance policy.  


What does third party, fire and theft cover?

Third party, fire and theft is similar to third party car insurance. But as the name suggests, it provides a little extra coverage. 

Not only does it cover you for damages to a third party. It can also cover the cost of:

  • Replacing your car if it’s stolen and not recovered 
  • Fixing your car if it’s damaged in an attempted theft
  • Fixing your car if it’s damaged in a fire (accidental or arson)

If your car’s damaged in an accident that’s your fault though, you’ll still have to pay to repair or replace it yourself. This could be particularly expensive if you drive a new or high value car. 

What does comprehensive car insurance cover?

Comprehensive – sometimes known as fully comprehensive – is the highest level of car insurance you can buy. 

It differs from third party insurance in that it covers you and your car, as well as other people and their property. 

Typically, you can expect a comprehensive insurance policy to cover you for:

  • Damage to your own car from an accident, theft or vandalism
  • Accidental damage to someone else’s vehicle or property
  • Injuries to you or someone else as a result of an accident
  • Damage to your personal belongings
  • Damage to your glass or windscreen

Here at Prima, we aim to bring drivers total peace of mind. So we also include the following as standard in our comprehensive policy:

  • Lost key cover
  • Child seat cover
  • Cover to drive someone else’s car (so long as you’re over 25 and eligible)
  • Courtesy car while yours is with an approved repairer
  • 90 days’ cover to drive abroad in any EU country

To find out more about what is and isn’t covered by our comprehensive policy, check out our policy wording.

Is comprehensive more expensive than third party insurance?

Many drivers assume that, because comprehensive car insurance offers a higher level of protection, it costs more than third party insurance. 

But that’s not always the case these days. 

Insurers have become wise to the fact that higher-risk drivers (such as new drivers or those with points on their licence) often choose lower level cover to try and reduce their insurance costs. And so the cost of third party policies has gone up, to reflect this higher risk. 

So even if you think you only need third party cover, it’s worth checking whether a comprehensive policy would actually work out cheaper. The easiest way to do this is through a price comparison website, such as Compare the Market, or Go.Compare.

And remember, the type of cover you choose isn’t the only factor which can affect your insurance costs. Insurers will also consider things like:

  • What type of car you drive. 
  • How long you’ve been on the road.
  • How much you drive. 

What type of car insurance is right for me?

Ultimately, which car insurance you choose comes down to your personal needs. 

But if you’re still a little unsure which is best, ask yourself: Could you afford to repair or replace your car out of your own pocket? Could you be without a car while yours was being repaired?

If you answered no to either of these questions, a comprehensive car insurance policy might be best for you. 

What type of car insurance does Prima offer?

Here at Prima, we want to make life simpler for drivers and provide them with total peace of mind. So we only offer one comprehensive car insurance policy. 

You can’t get a quote with us directly online just yet. But you can find us on our partner price comparison websites, such as, Compare the Market or Go.Compare. Or you can call us to get a quote for comprehensive cover on 020 3318 9745.


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